“How hot could it possibly be in Maine?” friends from other parts of the country ask. Well, let me tell you. It’s been hot lately. I mean, really hot.
There were a few days — when the temperature soared to over ninety and the humidity level was ridiculous — that I actually lost my appetite. This doesn’t happen much. I have to be really upset or really hot to lose interest in eating. I munched on cubes of juicy, sweet watermelon and raspberries during those dog days.
What sets Miyake apart from other Portland restaurants is not just the caliber of the food or the stunning décor of its new digs at 468 Fore Street. But, rather, chef and proprietor Masa Miyake has gone beyond what’s loosely deemed culinary fusion and cruises through a starry celestial spin around global cuisine that is nothing short of exceptional.
This is my fantasy: there’s a barn smelling of wood and hay and the farm that surrounds it. Down the middle there’s a long table, set for dinner guests. Twenty people, maybe more. There are colorful tablecloths and mismatched china and real silverware and wine glasses. Candles provide all the light as the sun sets and night falls. The food? Fresh from the farm-- and plentiful. Flowers, in small vases, run the length of the table. Wine flows, and conversation comes easily whether between old friends or new acquaintances who happen to be seated together.
I wonder if the Falmouth Sea Grill, recently and dazzlingly renovated, would draw such an eager crowd if it didn’t offer such stylish creature comforts on an opulently stunning piece of waterfront. Will diners flock to this new incarnation for the food, the setting or both?
The evening the three of us were there during the horrendous heat wave of last week, the place was packed to the rafters.
Bristling with simplicity, Maine lobster pounds, clam shacks, and other restaurants where the fish practically swim onto your plate are very nearly faultless.
In some ways, these beloved strongholds contend with Maine’s growing reputation as a serious food region, but the inexorable allure of fried clams, lobster, baked beans, whoopee pies, and Moxie are local necessities.
Yet, it’s nice to have both—both the serious food and the seriously simple food—at our disposal.
Timing is everything.
Apparently I missed the best part of South Portland’s farmer’s market debut this past Thursday when the city’s mayor, dressed up as a strawberry, performed a ribbon cutting ceremony as majestically as setting a ship to sail.
My tardiness was due to not being able to find the place.
The garden this year feels a lot like life. For two solid months it rained and was cold and pretty miserable. The ground soaked up all that moisture like a thirsty child. Then July hit and with it came extreme heat (it was over 90 yesterday), humidity, and not a speck of moisture. Everything started to grow in double-time, looking plentiful, but quite parched.
What’s the expression: when it rains it pours? Sometimes life, like gardening, is full of clouds and other times it just beams down more sun than you can take. Aaah, to find a happy medium!
Finally real Mexican fare has arrived in Portland. Along the way it’s been a jokester’s playgroud of facsimiles scattered throughout the region with plenty of burrito, taco, and enchilada misnomers in the guise of Mexican comestibles.
I never expected to have such an incredible dinner in a little shack in the middle of farm fields only 10 minutes from downtown Portland.
That’s one of the beauties of living in this port city: everything is so near yet seems so far afield.
Let me explain. The little shack is actually a restaurant called The Well. The farm field is Jordan’s Farm on Wells Road off Spurwink, a handy short cut to take off Route 77 if you’re going to Scarborough beaches.
Nestled in the Warren hills, on picturesque Western Road a few miles off Route 90, is Beth’s Farm Market, a farming success story in the best way. I remember stumbling upon it 20 years ago while traveling the back roads from Lincolnville to Camden to avoid the summer lockout along the Route 1 entrance into town. I made a few wrong turns and found myself in front of Beth’s—then a farm stand no bigger than a lean-to.